George Hajishengallis, a professor of microbiology in the School of Dental Medicine, spends most of his professional energy on research that concerns the mouth; specifically, he studies a severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. But, as he notes, “the mouth is not an isolated entity.” 

In a paper published this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, his work has found application in treating the rodent equivalent of multiple sclerosis (MS). A molecule called Del-1 that Hajishengallis and others have found to block inflammation in the gums also puts a stop to the recruitment of certain inflammatory cells in the central nervous system, and brought a halt to the symptoms of disease in mice.

“It’s amazing that our work in periodontitis has found application in a central nervous system disease,” Hajishengallis says. “This shows that periodontitis can be a paradigm for other medically important inflammatory diseases.” Hajishengallis and his collaborators began the work with a couple of clues that Del-1 might play a role in regulating inflammation not only in the gums, but also in the central nervous system.”

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